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Unsatisfying session work


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OK... so this afternoon I did a session with a band that I'm playing with right now. I don't know how to explain this or even what the right words are for it.. but I feel very unfulfilled with the session today. All I was doing was laying down a new bass part to a 3 song demo that this band recorded long before I was a member of the group. We give them away at our shows, and the 'band leaders' wanted to have a more accurate example of what the band sounds like now. OK, no big thang. I dunno.. I just felt un-inspired. The songs are now done and the new mixed versions of them will be available on our website for download sometime tomorrow as I understand it. I can post a link if anyone is interested in checking it out, sort of a Led Zeppelin meets Black Crows affair with a chick lead singer.

 

Anyways.. I was wondering if anyone else ever feels like they really haven't accomplished anything after a session (and the people you're recording it for think that it's the greatest thing since sliced bread). :rolleyes: Even the session work I've done that is a "hey are you available, yeah, we need a bass player to do X today for this thing". Even with those I usually feel fairly satisfied with the outcome.

 

Blah.

 

-Brian

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Hi Brian,

I may be way off base here, but here's me theory...

 

Studio sessions are fickle affairs...

Sometimes they're magical events and other times in spite of our best efforts-just another "day at the office". If the "client" is happy-just be happy and hope for a more inspired day the next time.

 

This sounds like your first session with a new group whom you've only played with live.

 

If you played with them in the studio, it most likely felt very different just due to the environment, distancing due to wearing headphones, being SURE your timing was totally on because this is being recorded for all posterity, etc.

 

Even if you've been inspired and more comfortable as a session guy before, this session came with some "baggage". (I'm in this new band-hope they like the way the demo sounds as much (or more) than the old one with their old bassist. Things are going pretty well-don't need any hassles now...) kind of band politics stuff. Yah? No?

 

Anyway, don't let it bug you for more than a day. It's good that you care when you feel that you're not playing up to your own best standards, but, it couldn't have been too bad if you pleased several other humans with a potential agenda!

Any of this sound like what your session felt like?

Next time you'll likely be more in the comfort zone and blow 'em away with your creativity.

 

Even if you were just re-recording the bass part on a multi-tracked recording, those same issues are most likely echoing in your subconscience making it all more work that fun. The additional issue being that you're not creating the finished project as art, just creating your new part to an old tune.

 

Did it feel different in the studio with the band then it did on stage?

 

It's likely that you'll feel inspired when the band cuts brand new tunes in which you will hopefully have some creative input.

"When people hear good music, it makes them homesick for something they never had, and never will have."

Edgar Watson Howe

"Don't play what's there. Play what's not there" Miles Davis

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I forgot to reply to your question

:rolleyes:

Some sessions, the producer and artist are perfectly happy with my hum drum uninspsired root fifth part and I just leave feeling frustrated that I couldn't be allowed to be more creative/hip. This usually happens after I've spent a week at home writing out what I think is a truly creative, melodic, goovin' part that really compliments the tune. :confused:

 

Other sessions, no matter what I play, which bass I try, nothing pleases them. Then I ask what they'd like to hear and I get: "Make it more green and shady, ok?"

 

I think we all have romantic visions about studio work. It's not always fulfilling for us. Sometimes we really have to be "musical prostitutes" and give the client only what they ask for so we can get paid and called back.

Sometimes it's art and sometimes it's truly just a job.

 

You know those stories: The engineer spends 20 minutes EACH on getting a sound for the guitarist, the vocalist, the drummer,etc. Then has us hit ONE note and he says, "Great! Let's Go!"

"When people hear good music, it makes them homesick for something they never had, and never will have."

Edgar Watson Howe

"Don't play what's there. Play what's not there" Miles Davis

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I think I've been happy with about 10% of the meager session work I've done. Most of the time I listen back and seriously wonder how anybody else could like the crap that i splattered all over the fretboard...yet they tell me that it's great.

 

I try to look at it as "Hey, it's good that you're not satisfied with your playing...it means that you won't rest on your laurels."

 

When putting together a reel, though, it's difficult to remind myself that everything I have recorded isn't crap! :D

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Maybe there's something to be said for listening with other people's ears. I know that sometimes after I really work on a part that gets (close to) what I wanted in my mind, and really get it solid, it can happen that by the time I'm playing it & hearing it back I might think, "That sounds tired; or I really wanted something else there; or I just would do it all differently next time." And so on. But the other people who are listening often respond very positively, just because to them it's a fresh idea & groove, & they're not filtering it through all of those issues that you've got because it's yours.

 

If you're like me (& I know I am), it's very difficult to feel happy with your own work.

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My first thought is to ask how you feel about the parts when you play them live. Are you excited about them? Do they "serve the song" (ach - ptooey :mad: )? Do you enjoy playing them?

 

I just put a few songs down with one of my "work coffee house" groups. It included a song I wouldn't have picked, and the bass part is less than interesting. I felt no great accomplishment or satisfaction. Yeah it sounds good, but so what? I've recorded other songs that I was quite happy about, because they were interesting as songs and as bass parts.

 

For me, the idea of laying it on after the fact doesn't bother me. It tells me where everybody else has been, so I can pick my spots to add myself in the part.

 

Tom

www.stoneflyrocks.com

Acoustic Color

 

Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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Originally posted by Tom Capasso:

My first thought is to ask how you feel about the parts when you play them live. Are you excited about them? Do they "serve the song" (ach - ptooey :mad: )? Do you enjoy playing them?

 

I just put a few songs down with one of my "work coffee house" groups. It included a song I wouldn't have picked, and the bass part is less than interesting. I felt no great accomplishment or satisfaction. Yeah it sounds good, but so what? I've recorded other songs that I was quite happy about, because they were interesting as songs and as bass parts.

 

For me, the idea of laying it on after the fact doesn't bother me. It tells me where everybody else has been, so I can pick my spots to add myself in the part.

 

Tom

Yeah, I suppose I like the parts. I think ultimately that this band just isn't as musically challanging as the other stuff I'm doing. It's fun, we gig a lot, and I really like the other band members... so whatever.

 

Here's the stuff I played on yesterday, for anyone who wants to check it out. Let me know what you think.

 

http://www.lateseptemberdogs.com/mp3s/beautiful.mp3

 

That's the first take of "Anything But Beautiful". Kept it. This song is fun because it's in 6/4 with the cool little 5/4 thing near the end.

 

http://www.lateseptemberdogs.com/mp3s/free.mp3

 

This is either the second or third take of "Set it Free". This song took the most time for some reason.. I actually took the most takes on this one (three)

 

http://www.lateseptemberdogs.com/mp3s/maybe.mp3

 

This is the second take of "Maybe An Angel". We were going to keep the first take, but they wanted some extra or alternate fills for the measure bass fills leading into the chorus... so I did another take and was a bit more busy all-around on this. For whatever reason they decided to just keep this entire second take for the finished version.

 

Give 'em a listen and let me know what you think, if you feel so inclined.

 

-Brian

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Bumpcity, I'll check 'em out when I get to work, where I have a fast enough connection to hear the stuff without waiting for an hour. ;)

 

This is the best I ever felt about any session work I did where I wasn't part of a band:

 

Better Place.mp3

 

I still thought I got too notey during the guitar break...and I kind of lost the groove a bit there too...

 

Let's exchange ego strokes... :D

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I can understand if this band's music isn't your greatest passion (not because of the music, but just because people differ in their passions), and I can understand if you'd be more enthused if you had been more personally involved in the creation of the music & the arrangement. But I've listened, and I think you sound really great. You bring your own perspective to this type of music, & what you put down is good, interesting stuff--more so than one often hears on the radio, imho. So I say good job! :thu:
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Originally posted by BenLoy:

Bumpcity, I'll check 'em out when I get to work, where I have a fast enough connection to hear the stuff without waiting for an hour. ;)

 

This is the best I ever felt about any session work I did where I wasn't part of a band:

 

Better Place.mp3

 

I still thought I got too notey during the guitar break...and I kind of lost the groove a bit there too...

 

Let's exchange ego strokes... :D

ego stroke... ego stroke... :D

 

Benloy. I like it and I don't think you got too notey during the guitar break; it was begging for something like that. Pretty cool tune. I liked how you got more and more busy with your line as the song progressed. Tasty!

 

-Brian

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Bumpcity--

 

I must kill you to get that Lull Modern 5. That thing sounds killer! Gritty, bottomy, and clean, all at once! I want it...

 

I'm diggin' the John Paul Jones-isms throughout, and the drummer's slammin'. You guys play well together.

 

I think see what you mean, though...(BenLoy ventures into critical territory) the material's decent, but nothing really jumps out and GRABS you as a killer hook. And the singer sounds like, well, a typical chick singer.

 

Don't get me wrong, it certainly isn't BAD by any stretch of the imagination, though. It sounds more like a group with material that falls short of the greatness of the players.

 

Given how this compares to the audacity and coolness of Yogi's material, I understand your semi-apathy quite well.

 

I've been in MANY bands like this...not much you can do unless you know how to write a killer song, which I don't. :rolleyes:

 

Groovin job! I can tell you'll kill that Yogi material with what I've heard here...wish I could be there on the 31st... :thu:

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Oh, and THANK YOU for the kind words about my playing on "Better Place" everyone... :D

 

It's funny, the stuff you complimented me on is the stuff I don't even think about...it's in a part of my brain I'm hardly conscious of.

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bumpcity,

Yeah, nothing to feel down about here. Sounds fine. Maybe it's just a readjustment from playin' in a horn/funk band where there may have been more going on in the material? The first two songs sounded like they just didn't have a super memorable melody or hook. YOU sounded great.

 

The singer sounds a little Duffy Bishop-y...

"When people hear good music, it makes them homesick for something they never had, and never will have."

Edgar Watson Howe

"Don't play what's there. Play what's not there" Miles Davis

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benloy,

Ditto for you. The melodic, propulsive stuff you did from the 4 minute mark to the finis was especially nice. This kind of stuff is near and dear to my heart as I do a lot of singer songwriter sessions and our approach sounds similar.

 

Both you and bumpcity have a solid future in the studios!

 

It's fun hearing lowdowner's recordings! :cool:

"When people hear good music, it makes them homesick for something they never had, and never will have."

Edgar Watson Howe

"Don't play what's there. Play what's not there" Miles Davis

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benloy,

Ditto for you. The melodic, propulsive stuff you did from the 4 minute mark to the finis was especially nice. This kind of stuff is near and dear to my heart as I do a lot of singer songwriter sessions and our approach sounds similar.

 

Both you and bumpcity have a solid future in the studios!

 

It's fun hearing lowdowner's recordings!

*Sniff*, such kind words...my head's gonna swell up...

 

So Jim, when're you gonna post some of your stuff, huh?

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Originally posted by BenLoy:

Also, Bumpcity, if you've even come close to nailing the rediculous bass part "There Is No More Evil In This World", I'm running back to my "humbled by a cat who can smoke me" corner. :D

:D I'll help you make the corner up... :D:D:D

 

We're playing "There Is No More Evil In This World" live. SO playing that damn 16th note bassline at 120bpm for 5 minutes. :D Actually, the way we play it live it slightly different from the way it was recorded. My part is identical, with the exception of the big vocal lines that have the synth strings with them during the verses. I switch from playing the sixteenth note thing to doubling the vocal line (in octaves) and then go right back into the sixteenth note groove. It sounds cool. :cool: When we do this song on New Year's Eve, Beller is going to sit in and play the other bass part during the chorus section, which I can't wait for.

 

The notes in that line, if you want to start playing along at home are:

 

all sixteenth notes:

 

F# D D D D F# G# A D C# B G A G# D D

 

repeat forever..

 

the solo section is the only variation on the groove which is (all sixteenth notes again):

 

F# D E F# D D G# A C# A B G# E E G# E

 

It's completely ridiculous. I love it.

 

This really isn't THAT hard of a song to play, it's all about just getting that stupid part down so you can play it for roughly 5 minutes. The REALLY hard song on "Any Raw Flesh?" is by far "Firefly". Jesus. That song is retarded-hard.. and it doesn't sound like it until you start working it out. Ugh.

 

Anyways, thank you so much for the kind words. I really appreciate it. I like playing with the group that recorded those tunes last weekend because whenever they ask me to play something, they essentially ask me, "play what John Paul Jones would have played" :D Love it.

 

-Brian

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Originally posted by BenLoy:

Bumpcity--

 

I must kill you to get that Lull Modern 5. That thing sounds killer! Gritty, bottomy, and clean, all at once! I want it...

 

If you ever make it out so Seattle... you're more than welcome to play it. :D;)

 

I'm diggin' the John Paul Jones-isms throughout, and the drummer's slammin'. You guys play well together.

 

I think see what you mean, though...(BenLoy ventures into critical territory) the material's decent, but nothing really jumps out and GRABS you as a killer hook. And the singer sounds like, well, a typical chick singer.

 

yep, kinda my feelings too. It's a fun band to play in though, and I get to be extra-uber noodly with my parts -ala JPJ- which is always fun. When we play live, the lead guitar player and I do a lot of 'dueling solo' stuff, which seems to impress the crowd for some reason... it's like people have never heard pentatonic blues riffs at 900mph before. :rolleyes:

 

Given how this compares to the audacity and coolness of Yogi's material, I understand your semi-apathy quite well.

 

I've been in MANY bands like this...not much you can do unless you know how to write a killer song, which I don't. :rolleyes:

 

Groovin job! I can tell you'll kill that Yogi material with what I've heard here...wish I could be there on the 31st... :thu:

Yeah... the Yogi stuff is absolutely amazing. I'm having so much fun playing in that band, I almost feel guilty about it. We just started working on a new song called "Numbered Days" which has been recorded (with Beller on bass) but is not being released. Yog wasn't happy with the end result and he won't let me hear it because he doesn't want me to steal any of Beller's ideas. It's a cool tune... I don't know why it's not being released on Salve. Anyways...

 

I know the show on New Year's Eve is getting recorded, there are at least 2 guys that are recording it. I'll post a link as soon as it's available (...and as long as I don't suck too much on it ;) ). One of these days I'm going to make it out to New York to visit my buddy Marty. When I make it out there, we're hooking up for beverages and war stories. :)

 

-Brian

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